Persian, French and German Poker History
Some historians believe that poker is derived from the Persian game of "As Nas." As Nas was played with a deck of 25 cards and five different suits. The object of the games was to obtain the highest hand after five cards had been dealt to each of the players. So you can see that winning As Nas was quite similar to winning poker in its modern form. It is said that the game of As Nas was passed down from generation to generation in its original form, and eventually traveled to New Orleans via tradesmen in the 1800s.
Another theory is that the game of poker in its present form originated with the French. The name Poker is derived from a mixture of the French word "Poque" and the German "Pochen" which both mean to knock. The idea being that the player needs to "knock out" all of the other players in order to win the hand. The original French game was played with only 20 cards, with four suits, and each player could take up to a maximum of four cards. The player with the highest hand, after the four cards had been dealt was the winner. Due to the widespread popularity of the game, different versions developed.
Another explanation of the name is that it is from the slang expression "to poke" someone, which meant to cheat someone out of his possessions. Some legends say that the name Poker derived from the word "poke" due the number of cheaters and bandits who first played the game.
Some Changes to the Game of Poker
After the American Civil War, more changes were made to the game of poker. The idea of wild cards was introduced to the poker game, as was bluffing. In some ways, poker had always been thought of as a game of bluff. But in time, poker developed to become more of a game of skill rather than just chance. Players started taking more time in their poker games and planning their poker strategies before starting to play. One could overhear many discussions of how to play a poker hand, taking into account different possible scenarios. There would be meetings in saloons and clubs just to discuss the potential of a poker game and men would get together to decide who would play the game for them. Women also played the game of poker even though it was not widely thought of as acceptable for women to play.
20th-Century Casino Poker
In the early 20th Century, with the widespread acceptance of casinos as gambling houses, poker became even more popular. Casinos set up special poker rooms, which were curtained off from the rest of the casino and kept very quiet. All of the poker players are given their space and time to concentrate on their game. There is a traditional picture of poker players sitting around a table with deathly silence and cigar smoke hanging in the air, each player waiting for the next move. The poker table was instituted; this is a round or rectangular table with a green felt covering.
Of course, poker playing was not confined to casinos only. Millions of people enjoyed playing poker with friends in their own homes or at poker parties. Poker has become so popular that even the descriptions used in the game are part of our everyday language today. A person can be described as a wild card; this is derived from the wild card that was thrown into the game. "Passing the buck", a favorite expression for many of us, is from poker. In a poker game, it meant that the player would concede and pass the bet over to someone else. In everyday use, its meaning is similar; blame is apportioned to someone else.
Online Poker Arrives
Computers also figure greatly in poker history. At first, before the internet became widely spread, computer poker games could be played only for the thrill of beating the machine, as there was no possibility to place bets. As time went on and technology developed, so did the computer poker game. Online banking was established and subsequently online casinos — featuring online poker games — started to flourish in the 1990s. Online poker players were able to place their bets directly to the casinos and send their money through the online banking systems, and thus experience the excitement of playing poker for real money
Today, poker features prominently in every online casino
. The poker room of the old land-based casino has been transported to the cyber poker room in an online casino. Online casinos
have incorporated all of the different types of poker games
and even come up with some variations of their own. The result is that the best online casinos
offer many variations of online poker
, including online 3-Card Poker, Bonus Pai Gow Poker, Poker Pursuit, Cyberstud Poker, and more.
Poker as a Spectator Sport
The excitement of the poker game is not restricted to the players. Poker has also become a popular spectator sport. The World Series of Poker was established in the 1970s when a famous poker player by the name of Binion saw how excited spectators got when they watched a game. Especially as the stakes rose, the tension rose and the excitement grew. In the World Series of Poker, the best poker players in the world compete against each other. The stakes are high and the potential winnings are even higher.
The World Series of Poker can now be viewed on television and the players' poker strategies are analyzed by expert commentators throughout the game. Keen poker followers queue for hours to get tickets to watch one of the final games. Thanks to the World Poker Series, Poker is now also classified as a sport.
Poker History Has Come a Long Way
Poker history has come a long way since the ancient Persian game of As Nas. Modern technology has made possible internet poker games and televised poker tournaments. But the excitement of a good poker game is the common thread throughout all of poker history, and that is something that will never change.